Initiative to provide education and mentoring for Indigenous entrepreneurs
The University of Wollongong’s business incubator iAccelerate and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s Yarpa Indigenous Business and Employment Hub (Yarpa) have come together in a partnership to strengthen and grow the Indigenous business startup sector.
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the partnership includes an innovative train-the-trainer program with Yarpa facilitators trained to deliver iAccelerate’s six-week intensive Activate entrepreneurship program.
It is the first time iAccelerate has licensed the program to a third party. The initiative will also serve as a blueprint for future collaborations that will enable iAccelerate to reach youth, migrant, regional or remote communities interested in benefitting from a leading entrepreneurship program.
Once Yarpa’s business coaches are skilled to run Yarpa Activate, they will begin an integrated marketing and communications campaign to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are in the ideation phase of their business.
Yarpa Activate will encourage innovation and ignite a passion for business growth within the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
The Activate program is designed to be delivered flexibly as an interactive online course, through a blend of facilitator led workshops, self-paced online learning, individual mentoring, active learning and peer support, with the added option for face-to-face contact. It offers a principled approach to new product development, customer discovery and continuous improvement to ensure a solid foundation to launch a sustainable business.
Yarpa Activate and participating entrepreneurs will become part of the iAccelerate Innovation Network that offers links to startup hubs and resources across the globe.
Yarpa Hub Director Ricky Walford joined iAccelerate CEO Omar Khalifa and UOW Pro Vice-Chancellor (Inclusion and Outreach) Professor Paul Chandler at iAccelerate on UOW’s Innovation Campus to announce the partnership.
Mr Khalifa said the partnership built upon iAccelerate’s decade of experience supporting startups and a commitment to developing entrepreneurship skills regionally and nationally and to reach communities that may lack access to critical resources to support entrepreneurship.
“Today we are really proud to announce we are kicking off a new program with Yarpa,” Mr Khalifa said. “This is not only about supporting indigenous entrepreneurs, but to build a self-supporting capability by training facilitators and identifying mentors. It is also about learning about how to create a better startup program that benefits from and integrates unique approaches from Indigenous communities.”
“Our idea is to not only extend our ability to reach Indigenous people at the Yarpa Hub, but to see the skill building scale across the region and across the nation. Our commitment is to support the entrepreneurs and to the communities they are a part of.”
Mr Walford said the partnership with iAccelerate would help improve Indigenous businesses from ideation stage right through to setting the standard for growth and development of Indigenous business across NSW.
“Indigenous businesses will get the support, guidance and knowledge that they’ll need to improve their businesses and give them the confidence to go out to the market, sell their businesses and offer whatever services they can to help improve their future careers,” Mr Walford said.
“The train-the-trainer model is a critical part … It will increase awareness of the program, but also create more opportunities for our Hub coaches to identify Indigenous businesses out there that can take advantage of the iAccelerate program.”
Professor Chandler said the initiative fitted seamlessly with the University’s Aboriginal Strategy and Reconciliation Action Plan.
“What a fantastic initiative, I expect nothing less from iAccelerate. It is kicking all the goals in the indigenous space at the moment,” Professor Chandler said.
“It is all part of self-determination. To have Aboriginal students working together on their own ideas around entrepreneurship and being able to have the freedom to determine their own paths in a culturally safe way. I see it as self-determination in action.”
iAccelerate is a unique business accelerator and incubator program at UOW, where startups, scaleups, social enterprises and businesses thrive. Businesses are supported by a robust model of education, mentoring, seed funding and unparalleled access to one of the world’s most innovative young research universities
About Yarpa Hub
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has partnered with the Australian Government, under the Indigenous Business Sector Strategy (IBSS), to design and deliver the Yarpa Indigenous Business and Employment Hub (Yarpa Hub).
The Yarpa Hub is helping build a strong, diverse and self-supporting Indigenous business sector that will empower Indigenous people and place Indigenous business owners and their communities in the driver’s seat of their economic future.
The Yarpa Hub is a one-stop-shop for Indigenous businesses, entrepreneurs and job seekers to build relationships and connect Indigenous people to business and employment opportunities across NSW.
Story by Benjamin Long